Troubleshooting FM reception

FM Radio reception problems can be caused by many things. It is often a process of elimination to find the cause.

First check whether it is a reception problem by checking your own installation, or whether there are any external problems such faults in the network, or weather.

Certain sounds, such as sibilance, whistling, twittering, popping, hissing, buzzing or clicking can point to a particular problem. Some may indicate the problem is being caused by an interfering signal.

Basic Installation

It is important to check your installation is working properly and that your radio is in the best possible position. 

Transmitter faults and frequencies

Use our transmitter tool to check the transmitter is not undergoing any work and to see what FM radio services you can receive from your location.  

Hi-fi radios

If you are using a hi-fi tuner and stereo reception is hissy, but mono is fine, your aerial may not be powerful enough. You may need to consider a loft or external aerial to solve your reception problem.


TV signals can be affected by fine weather including high pressure and the only solution is to wait for the weather to change, you should not re-tune during this time. For more information see our help guide on fine weather

Pirate Radio

In some urban areas Pirate Radio can be a problem, The Regulator, Ofcom, deals with Pirate Radio and you can report it using the Pirate Radio form on the Ofcom website.

Distorted S and Z sounds (sibilance)

This can happen when your radio receives more than one signal. The second signal is picked up by the radio moments after the first. For example you receive one signal directly from the transmitter and another is being reflected off a nearby hill. Try moving the radio or tuning to a different frequency.

Twittering and whistling

This issue often sounds like birds tweeting and can happen if there is another frequency being transmitted near the one you are listening to. This can be caused high pressure; during fine weather radio signals can travel much further than normal from both UK and foreign stations. There is nothing that can be done and the problem will go away when the weather changes. For more information see our help guide on fine weather

Hissing and fading

This normally means that the signal you are receiving is not strong enough. See our guide on Hissing and Fading.

Buzzing, clicking and pops

This may mean an electrical item in your home or nearby is interfering with the reception of your FM radio and is causing the buzzing, clicking or pops you can hear. See our What is Interference? page

Qualified Installer

The BBC cannot recommend individual installers. The CAI (Confederation of Aerial Industries) is a recognised trade body which can put you in touch with one of its members in your area.